Nail Yakupov and The Puck

Andrey Osadchenko
January 10 2013 08:34AM

Ever since Nail Yakupov was projected to go first overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he was a media darling. He with candid and well-spoken with Russian media and tried his best to do the same for North American media with the little command of English language he had.

And he succeeded. Think of his famous post-game interview after the semifinal game in Calgary at the 2012 World Juniors. Nail gives broken English a new meaning, and yet you are drawn to the nonsense he’s saying. Because it’s not the words you’re listening to – it’s the emotion.

His reputation was shaken by his alleged comment about Team Canada and how ‘dirty’ they play. At the World Juniors in Ufa Yakupov came out to the media once and didn’t say much even then.

He made it clear to everyone before the tournament that he doesn’t feel like talking to the media. However, the message was not understood and the reporters kept pushing but to no avail. The media got angry with Yakupov and now it seems that the fans are on the reporters’ side.

I don’t really feel like talking about why all of this is happening and why Yakupov decided to do what he did. Instead, I would like to share a story with you. A story from the World Juniors. A story that not a single reporter broke because they were blindly following the ‘dirty Canadians’ lead.

Junior hockey isn’t big in Russia - heck, is it anywhere outside of Canada? – so there is only a fistful of journalists who cover it. Elena ‘Rusko’ Kolpakova (@ElenaRusko) is one of them. She is a writer on occasion but her main line of work is photography. I may be wrong but I think she’s covered every World Junior Championship since 2008. She works for the largest news and photo agencies in Russia and is even tapping into North American market now.

Russian junior – and former junior – players are well-aware of her. It’s hard not to be when she’s your main source of your pictures from the game, though. Kolpakova has a hobby – she’s into collecting pucks. Game used pucks primarily. Every tournament she asks a few players on Team Russia to bring her a puck from the game if they have a chance.

In Ufa she asked Yakupov for the favor. Yeah, the same evil and mute Yakupov the general crowd thought they saw in Russia.

Kolpakova reminded Yakupov about the puck right before the Canada-Russia game in the round robin. Canada dominated on the ice; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Yakupov’s rival in this context – picked up three points as his team won 4-1. Russia lost their chance to win a bye to a semifinal. All of this happened on New Year’s Eve – by far a bigger holiday in Russia than Christmas is in Canada. The Russian team was heavily criticized by the media when they were winning. You can imagine what the press did to Yakupov and company after that loss. You’d think Nail would be the first one to storm off the ice after the devastating loss.

However, Yakupov stays on the ice when everyone is headed to the dressing rooms. He’s looking for Kolpakova in the stands. As soon as the eye contact is established, he raises his hand. He got her a puck. She pressed the button.

A few hours later he made this picture his profile on VK.com – a Russian social network.

Whoever had a chance to privately talk to Yakupov – even those of us who cover hockey for a living – will tell you the same thing. He’s still the guy we knew and loved. He’s an honest and reliable friend.

Who cares if for the time being he doesn’t feel like talking to the media who insists on asking the same questions day in and day out? Who cares if he thinks Team Canada plays dirty? He’s from a country that still remembers what Bobby Clarke did to Valeri Kharlamov after all.

The smallest deeds speak volumes. In Yakupov’s case it very well may be the story about the puck.

037e43b539fffeb0780fabd36a5982c4
Russian hockey reporter who moved to Canada to find himself right in the middle of hockey madness. @AOsadchenko
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#51 B S
January 10 2013, 02:42PM
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There's a reason I have to watch TSN broadcasts muted. The media decides what the stories are, then alters the facts to suit that. Apparently Yakupov is a selfish, defensively irresponsible, hateful player and a poor captain. Despite the jokes he cracks when he's talking to the media here, despite the fact that he put his reputation on the line to get under the skin of team Canada before an important game. Despite the fact that the 'offense-first' Yakupov was on the 2nd pk unit, covering the point.

Perhaps instead of "passing the puck, but then completely missing the rush" (TSN broadcast of the Canada v. Russia WJC game) Yakupov might have been setting his linemates up to break into the opposing zone while he covered the neutral zone in case of a turnover. Of course, that sort of selfless play doesn't suit the one-dimensional Russian Star Forward that he's been billed as by TSN, Sportsnet, and even some of the Edmonton media.

I have yet to hear a Yakupov quote I didn't like (he isn't the only Oilers prospect to take a stab at Canada btw; when he was captain of Sweden, Anton Lander said Canada didn't concern him, it was the U.S. that was the team to beat). He extends our elite scoring options to two full lines, and he has the quickest release I've ever seen. He's also shown a willingness to play a complete game in order to cover for the other russian stars (albeit with mixed results) which tells me he puts winning ahead of his own glory. I fully expect him to be a calder finalist at the end of the season (we all know the trophy will go to the one finalist who isn't an Oiler).

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#52 MAC962
January 10 2013, 02:59PM
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If you wish the puck dropped tonight

Leave a comment on this site ...

Favorite Oilers Memory ?

Anyone remember the ALBERTA OILERS Vrs The MINNESOTA FIGHTING SAINTS in a one game showdown in Calgary of all places ?

Add to this list of WHA TEAMS you remember..

Cincinnati Stingers

yeah i am bored... play along

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#53 justDOit
January 10 2013, 03:08PM
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@MAC962

Yup - time seems to be nearing a crawl waiting for puck drop...

Oops: Fav Oilers moment? NINETEEN-FRIGGIN-SEVENTY-NINE!

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#54 Sanaa Montana
January 10 2013, 03:09PM
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I believe TSN and Sportsnet(Bell&Rogers) main purpose is to sell citizens nationalism via hockey. They broadcast and commentate sports in 2012 like it is 1938.

In an hour broadcast, they will spend 25-30 percent of the time offering "insider opinions" on stories that haven't and that might occur.WTF?.!..

I have heard of "insider" infortmation, but never of "insider" opinion. For coverages that pride them selves on insiders, they sure spent a lot of time standing outside covering the lock-out. I won't even try to count or estimate how many times their guesses and insider information was wrong.

Yesterday, during both stations coverage of the Burke's fire me now because I don't want to step down fiasco, there was about 10-12 "insiders" and experts offering their opinion on the matter. No matter what any of them had to say(which was a whole lot of nothing) their final thought was "Why now?". As if. The MSM is a bunch of clowns and suckers who undermine general publics opinion with their bullsh!t and perception of reality.

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#55 MAC962
January 10 2013, 03:11PM
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justDOit wrote:

Yup - time seems to be nearing a crawl waiting for puck drop...

Oops: Fav Oilers moment? NINETEEN-FRIGGIN-SEVENTY-NINE!

No doubt. Who needs training camp. Drop the puck !! lol

Another WHA Team..

Birmingham Bulls

Come on , add to the list. Yes i need a life i know i know !!

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#56 EHH Team
January 10 2013, 03:19PM
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@MAC962

although they didn't last long, my favourite team name was the Miami Screaming Eagles.

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#57 MAC962
January 10 2013, 03:22PM
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EHH Team wrote:

although they didn't last long, my favourite team name was the Miami Screaming Eagles.

WOW- I though i knew them all, i missed that one.

Los Angeles Sharks Calgary Cowboys [ go figure] Cool uniforms though.

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#58 Mac962
January 10 2013, 03:28PM
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Cleveland Crusaders Ottawa Nationals Phoenix Roadrunners New York Golden Blades ? Toronto Toros New England Whalers. Awesome Jerseys

Vancouver ? Winnipeg jets The good ole Quebec Nordiques , who deserve a NHL Franchise.

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#59 OilDieHard
January 10 2013, 03:52PM
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Michigan Stags !

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#60 Mac962
January 10 2013, 03:54PM
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Favorite Oilers memory or one of them, Alberta Oilers.\ Jim Harrison, 3 goals 7 assists one night, i was going to the old Glengarry shell for a game of my own, listening to the radio while mom drove. Harrison rocked !!

Anyone got any old Edmonton Gardens Memories ?

Ok young bucks, we mature dudes are turning back the clock for a bit.

I remember Dad having season tickets , my seat was behind or beside one of those damn pillars in the middle of the stands, couldnt see squat. lol

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#61 MAC962
January 10 2013, 03:55PM
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OilDieHard wrote:

Michigan Stags !

GOOD ONE !! I REMEMBER THE STAGS LOL....

CHICAGO COUGARS- DAVE DRYDEN IN NET, PAT STAPLETON ON D.

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#62 justDOit
January 10 2013, 03:57PM
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@MAC962

Would love to have seen a Cougars/Stags game!

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#63 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:04PM
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justDOit wrote:

Would love to have seen a Cougars/Stags game!

LOL- NO DOUBT !

Nothing compares to the Ottawa Nationals- Toronto Toros rivalry tough !

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#64 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:07PM
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Philadelphia Blazers Who i think became the Vancouver Blazers- Johnny Mckenzie !!

What ever happened to Mark Napier ? Bow legged, but good damn player.

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#65 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:12PM
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INDIANAPOLIS RACERS - GOD BLESS THEM AND NELSON..

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#66 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:19PM
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San Diego Mariners ? Andre Lacroix ? hmmmm Ottawa Civics ? wtf...missed that one. Houston Aeros...Oilers always had trouble with them. Damn Gordie Howe.

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#67 Mike Modano's Dog
January 10 2013, 04:25PM
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@MAC962

That comes to mind...

Norm Lacombe completely running over a nameless Calgary Flame...this happened numerous times in his time here! :D (There may have been more important moments I remember, but not much I enjoyed much more than this!)

don't remember that game against Minnesota

Burmingham Bulls - they had a great goalie, didn't they? OMG...just looked it up, and yes they did. Trivia question: who was it??

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#68 SMACK962
January 10 2013, 04:26PM
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TOP 50 REASONS TO HATE THE FLAMES.

1. All their Cups, Ohh wait. Thats CUP.

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#69 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:27PM
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Mike Modano's Dog wrote:

That comes to mind...

Norm Lacombe completely running over a nameless Calgary Flame...this happened numerous times in his time here! :D (There may have been more important moments I remember, but not much I enjoyed much more than this!)

don't remember that game against Minnesota

Burmingham Bulls - they had a great goalie, didn't they? OMG...just looked it up, and yes they did. Trivia question: who was it??

Dave Dryden ??

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#70 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:36PM
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SMACK962 wrote:

TOP 50 REASONS TO HATE THE FLAMES.

1. All their Cups, Ohh wait. Thats CUP.

#2- Cause they had Ollie Joke n en, ha ha #3 - ??

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#71 MAC962
January 10 2013, 04:45PM
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MAC962 wrote:

#2- Cause they had Ollie Joke n en, ha ha #3 - ??

#3 Because poor Iggy who deserves better as a Edmonton area native had to suffer playing his career in Cowtown satisfied with making a run for 8th.

#4 Because we had to score in our own net.

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#72 Cowboy
January 10 2013, 04:55PM
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You guys bring tears to my eyes. A league where you had big hair from your head to your toes. Not like the NO! NO! shaved pretty boys of today.

RIP WHA

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#73 bchan
January 10 2013, 04:58PM
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@Andrey Osadchenko

The fans are behind Yakupov. When he made those comments, most fans thought the context was lost in translation.

"The media got angry with Yakupov and now it seems that the fans are on the reporters’ side"

Oiler fans took to Yakupov's defence and gave Jim Matheson (HHOF writer whose covered the Oilers for 30 years) a dose of 21st century reality.

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/01/02/should-yakupov-be-yakking-to-the-media/

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#74 mac962
January 10 2013, 05:17PM
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Cowboy wrote:

You guys bring tears to my eyes. A league where you had big hair from your head to your toes. Not like the NO! NO! shaved pretty boys of today.

RIP WHA

Bill Cowboy Flett. RIP As tough as they come.

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#75 Quicksilver ballet
January 10 2013, 06:53PM
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Grew up on the WHA. So blinded by it i never remembered seeing Bobby Orr play till he was a Blackhawk.

One of the nicest guys i remember was Bill Goldsworthy. Always the first one out on the ice for practice, he use to fool with the couple fans there by firing pucks at them in the stands. He never missed, always hit the seat next to me.

Paul Henderson (Birmingham Bulls) never walked by a kid without offering some words of encouragement. Always offered me his stick, too bad i shot right as well and used the sticks he gave me. Great man, always made time to build an impression.

Bam Bam (Dave Langevin) and Risto Siltanen were approachable guys as well. Was never sure if Risto could understand what fans were asking. He would always have that ear to ear grin/laugh going. The gentle giant, Bill Cowboy Flett, a raging bull on blades when someone got under his skin.

Good times.....

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#76 Dog Train
January 10 2013, 08:49PM
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Mountains out of mole hills. People just need to understand that he comes from a different culture than guys like Hall and RNH did. Every step on their journey to the NHL, Canadian junior players (especially the high end, high draft pick ones) are coached up on dealing with the media. Not to mention that English is usually their first language. It doesn't help when somebody with the status of a Don Cherry feeds us the same ethnocentric garbage every weekend. Let's be patient with the kid. He's a breath of fresh air and I am looking forward to seeing him light it up.

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#77 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
January 10 2013, 09:09PM
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#5 Because its Calgary...enuff said. #6?

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#78 Devolution
January 10 2013, 10:43PM
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@mac962

Anyone remember the Cherry Hill Knights?

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#79 Blake Havard
January 11 2013, 12:04AM
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I was 7 and my older brother who was 11 when we went to Team Canada 74 training camp at the old Edmonton Gardens. All the players were WHAers. I can remember it quite vividly. We still have a photo album with all the autographs we got including: Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Mark and Marty Hall, Norm Ulman, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Paul Henderson etc. For some reason I remember John Mackenzie being funny and great with the fans.

Looking forward to seeing this team entertain. I remember how much fun it was in the glory years. This may not be the same thing but it will be sure cool to see all these young passionate players growing up together. It will be a grind but a very fun few months.

Good luck Nail!

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